CORRUPTION WATCH-In the U.S., the term Fourth Estate means the media. The first three estates are the three branches of government -- the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial.
The press gets the moniker Fourth Estate because of its function to keep the other three estates honest. All four estates, however, are corrupt from the tippy top to the slimy gutter.
The Los Angeles Timeswas established on December 4, 1881 as the mouth piece of the City’s rulers, and it has almost never strayed from the role of protecting the rich and powerful while eviscerating the concept of investigative journalism. The fault does not rest with the reporters but with the various owners. As Daniel Guss wrote in CityWatch on Monday, April 17, 2018, “LA Times Gets Karma Beatdown,”the LA Times’smove from DTLA to El Segundo is the result of its hideous betrayal of the public trust. By shilling for corrupt developers and running its media empire like a real estate developer, the LA Time’sprior ownership was a major architect in the disaster that has become Los Angeles.
The city’s high and mighty, our fancy-schamcy big shots of LAdom, knew something was rotten which is why the esteemed Mickey Kantor and the billionaire Austin Beutner, who had dabbled with the LA Timesunsuccessfully, promoted the 2020 Commission. In its December 2013 report, this commission of the most exulted ones issued their dire warnings – and surprise, surprise, they were correct. The opening lines of “A Time For Truth”are: “Los Angeles is barely treading water while the rest of the world is moving forward. We risk falling further behind in adapting to the realities of the 21st century and becoming a City in decline.”
Close to five years have passed and the decline has been much steeper and the lies, deception and corruption are much deeper. Kantor, Beutner, and their cohorts followed up their December 2013 report with a gigantic dud in their April 2014, “A Time for Action.”Rather than look backwards and rag on the idiocy of this report, let’s turn to their good buddy Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who was apparently not implicated in the 2014 fiasco. Dr. Soon-Shiong recently purchased the LA Times.
One reason the 2020 Commission’s April 2014 report was a failure is that the problems besetting the city and state are so vast and entrenched, no report could propose a plan of action. Due to decades of gross dereliction of duty at the LA Timesand at other LA media outlets, investigative journalism has died. While LA has had a few good reporters, they have been hamstrung by their corrupt bosses whose fealty has not been to Truth, Justice and the American Way but rather to the pocketbooks of the Davos Set.
Why should Angelenos support the LA Timeswhen it basically gives us fake news about anything that is important? While the right wing’s fake news is the type of “Three Headed Martian Baby Rules FBI,” the LA Times’lies and deceptions have been more by omission and its promotion of the financial agenda of the Garcetti Administration. Who cares if thousands of poor people have their homes destroyed so Garcetti’s buddies can continue to make a fortune building fancy apartments? The LA Timeshas pretended that displacement and homelessness have been due to a lack of new construction. And 98% of Angelenos believe the fake news that there is a bona fide housing shortage.
When the LA Timesfinally decided to cover the story, it became a vehicle for more disinformation about how much the paper and the city care about helping the homeless. The problem is, every plan seems to end up giving billions of dollars to Garcetti’s best buds while more rent-controlled units continue to be destroyed. The LA Timespurposefully has not seen the connection between the destruction of poor people’s homes and an increase in homelessness.
What will Dr. Soon-Shiong do?
Will the good doctor flake out like his buddies Kantor and Beutner or will the three of them unite to use the remaining resources of the LA Timesto launch true journalistic investigation into the corruptionism that rules our society? There is a history at the paper of quashing stories that do not please the ruling class. For instance, the January 2015 article by Maura Dolan on the vast prosecutorial misconduct used to railroad thousands of people into prison was truncated by the paper, and her penitence became the task of writing a farce about the effectiveness of Commission on Judicial Performance.
And the Zahniser/Reyes-Alpert article on the corruption inherent in the Sea Breeze project was stopped before it went where it was headed, that is, criminal bribery-- extortion involving the mayor and city councilmembers.
While LA may have passed the point of no return with economic ruin upon us, Dr. Soon-Shiong should not throw in the towel. Now is the time to turn the LA Timesinto the world’s premier investigative news agency. Rest assured, dear doctor, if you decide to go down this road, you will become a pariah among the movers and shakers. As Quintus Tertullian said in the third century, “The truth appears to be instinctively hated.”
(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams